SIAYA COUNTY REVIEW
Siaya County is located in the western parts of the country and covers a total area of 2530.5 Kilometres Squared. It borders Busia, Kakamega, Vihiga and Kisumu Counties. Some of the districts that have being mapped in the county include Rarieda and Siaya Bondo.
As a result of the national census exercise that was carried out in 2009, the total number of people living in the county was estimated to be 842, 304 making it one of counties with low number of people. 10.8% of the total population was found to be living in the urban areas while the rest reside in the rural areas. The population density of the Siaya County was found to be approximately 332 persons per every kilometre squared.
There are five constituencies that have being mapped in Siaya County namely:
• Ugenya Constituency
• Gem Constituency
• Alego Constituency
• Bondo Constiruency
• Rarieda Constituency
GEOGRAPGHY AND CLIMATE
The average altitude of the county is 1140 meters in the lowlands and over 1400 meters in the high areas. The difference in altitude results in different temperatures in the parts of Siaya County. The average temperature during the hottest months is 30 degrees Celsius and 21.75 degrees Celsius in the cold months. The rainfall pattern is bimodal meaning there are short rains and long rains which give an average of between 1700 and 1450 mm per annum.
The soils are very fertile, has high humus content and high water holding capacity. This characteristic helps in preventing soil erosion and leaching of plant nutrients. Siaya County has some hills that attracts tourist as well as determine the weather patterns experienced. Examples of these hills include Mbaga, Nyambare, Regea and Akala.
Rivers in the county are both seasonal and permanent; they provide water for various domestic purposes as well as agricultural activities that are carried out under irrigation. Some of the rivers are Nzoia and Yala which later drain into the Lake Victoria.
This is one of the main economic activities carried out in Siaya County on large scale and small scale magnitude. Most of the farmers practise subsistence farming where they grow maize, beans, ground nuts, peas, wheat and millet for their own consumption. However some farmers also cultivate these crops for commercial purposes. Rice farming is widely practised in the Siaya County under irrigation. The rice harvested is sold in the urban areas while the surplus is transported to the neighbouring towns such as Kisii and Nairobi.
Livestock keeping is also practised in the county; some of the animals kept include cattle, goats, sheep, chicken and donkeys that are used as a source of labour. The animal products are mostly consumed in the county due to the high demand and high prices that it fetches in the market.
There are a number of economic activities carried out in Siaya County. This includes fishing, rice growing and livestock farming. All this activities produce products which are sold in the agricultural markets in the county and this in turn enables the residents to meet their various financial needs such as educating their children.
There are also small scale traders who have established retail shops and hotels that provide quality services and products to the residents. Real estate developers have also built tourist lodges and hotels that offer quality accommodation and catering services to tourist who visit the area. Some of the tourist attractions in Siaya County include Lake Victoria, Ndanu Falls, Yala Swamp and Lake Kanyaboli.
Most of these businesses are located along the major roads and urban areas. There are a total of six commercial banks and eight micro finance institutions that provide financial services to the residents.
HEALTH AND EDUCATION
These are the main factors that determine the rate at which an area develops economically. The local government in Siaya County has constructed over eighty dispensaries and two district hospitals. There are also VCT centres whose main objective is to provide guidance and counselling on the various sexually transmitted diseases.
There are 656 primary schools and over 148 secondary schools and this number has helped in alienating illiteracy and poverty in the county. The government however needs to build more schools in order to cater for the ever rising population.